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Jul 28, 2014
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Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Que Sazon Food Truck

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Earlier this month, Que Sazon food truck announced it was gassing up to hit the streets, and now the newest food truck in town is set to make its debut Sunday, June 1 at Citygarden from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Que Sazon serves up South American cuisine inspired by the dishes and flavors of owner Fabian Ocampo’s Colombia. Ocampo, who co-owns the truck with his wife, Julie Ocampo, and his mother, Elizabeth Ortiz, said many of the dishes borrow from his mother’s and grandmother’s recipes. And he won’t have to look far to ensure their authenticity; his mother is lending a hand in the kitchen, too.

The Que Sazon menu is divided between arepas, empanadas and empanadillas. Most dishes are served with house-made sauces like a sweet mango barbecue sauce (with a spicy kick); three varieties of chimichurri sauce, including a chimichurri mayo; salsa guiso, a fresh blend of onions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and saffron; and a spicy aji pique.

Arepas, handheld cornmeal disks, are split and stuffed with a variety of meats (shredded beef, chicken, chorizo or roasted pork that was marinated three days), beans and more. Flaky, crisp empanadas are filled with the expected (chicken and chorizo), and the unexpected, like the weird-yet-wonderful flavor combinations in the Che, an Argentinian-style empanada filled with ground beef, a hard-boiled egg and briny green olives. In the mood to sample? Try empanadillas, the empanada’s smaller cousin, where thin, corn tortillas hold about three bites of chicken or beef, potatoes and salsa guiso. And vegetarians need not worry; there are meatless arepa, empanadas and empanadilla options, too.

Fresh fruit can be found all over the Que Sazon menu, from plantains both crispy and sweet, diced mango dotting arepas and salad, and glasses of maracuya, a sweet-sour passionfruit juice perfect on a hot day. On the beverage side, the truck will also offer South American sodas like Guarana from Brazil, Jarritos from Mexico and Inca Kola from Peru.

Here’s a look at what to expect when Que Sazon rolls downtown this Sunday:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar opens doors Friday, May 30, just in time to offer a sweet trade-off when those days of 90-degree, 99 percent humidity hit. Located just steps from its sister establishment Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café at 8509 Delmar Blvd., in University City, the ice cream bar aims to be a destination for epicureans searching for a frozen treat.

Chefs Casey Shiller and Dana Holland have created a lineup of nearly 20 ice cream flavors, including classic, monthly creations and cupcake-inspired ones. (Keep an eye on the Sauce Facebook page for your chance to join Sauce in choosing one of Jilly’s July creations.) Customers can enjoy their frozen dessert in a bowl, cupcake waffle cone (made from Jilly’s cupcake batter), sugar cone, or a two-scoop side-by-side cake cone. The shop also offers sundaes; build your own or choose from one of five signature sundaes.

You could grab a cone and go, but the space at Jilly’s is so bright and cheery, you should linger and enjoy. Near the entrance is a smattering of two-top tables. An adjoining party room, which holds seating for 70, features wood chairs, tables and a bar rail by local green builder Mwanzi. (The party room is available to patrons when not reserved for special events.) A mounted collection of vintage spoons and ice cream scoopers and silver frames around the menu boards are just a few of the creative décor touches by local design company Worn Vintage Rentals.

The ice cream bar will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Here’s what’s in store when Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar opens Friday.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Siam

Monday, May 19th, 2014

After a soft opening in May, Grove newcomer Siam, located at 4121 Manchester Ave., is putting the finishing touches on food and drink menus in time for a June 14 grand opening. Those familiar with the former Novak’s space will notice a few changes in the newly minted Siam; co-owners Steven Preston and Ron Bray knocked down walls for a more open floor plan and hung vibrant animal artwork on the brick surrounding the bar. Outside, a spacious patio trussed in brick and wrought iron caters to both the dinner crowd and the late-night set.

“[The Grove] is an eclectic neighborhood,” Preston said. “There’s a good mix of people here, so we’re making it a place for everybody.”

The menu will feature Asian-inspired cuisine from executive chef Tyler Davis, whose previous experience includes Ernesto’s Wine Bar, and sushi chef Nanda Nyunt, formerly of Cafe Mochi. Currently, the bar at Siam is open Friday and Saturday starting at 8 p.m.; if you’re lucky, the kitchen may be testing a few menu items for late-night hungry customers.

After its grand opening, Siam will operate Wednesday to Sunday from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., transitioning to a late-night menu at 11 p.m. General manager Kelly Washam said Sunday brunch may be on the horizon as well.

Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect when Siam gets into full swing:

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Sneak Peek: Lulu’s Local Eatery on South Grand

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Robbie Tucker and Lauren Loomis, aka Lulu, announced in February that their vegan food truck business, Lulu’s Local Eatery, would soon get a permanent home. After revamping the former Natty’s Pizza space at 3201 S. Grand Blvd., Tucker and Loomis are opening doors to their brick-and-mortar May 19.

At this fast-casual spot, you’ll find veggie wraps and sandwiches filled with local produce, plus a handful of noodle and rice bowls, sides and even a kids’ menu. Some established crowd-pleasers that were previously rotating specials on the truck now have a permanent place on the brick-and-mortar menu. The restaurant will also offer its own distinct specials not available at the mobile eatery.

And when its liquor license is approved in a few weeks, patrons will be able to enjoy wine and craft beer on tap and in bottles. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays, with a weekend brunch slated to begin in late June or early July.

Here’s a look at what awaits when Lulu’s Local Eatery unlocks its doors.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Craft Beer Cellar

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Craft Beer Cellar opens May 17 at 8113 Maryland Ave., in Clayton. A venture by franchisees and brothers Brandon and Ryan Nickelson, the shop marks the first Missouri location for the Massachusetts-based craft beer retailer. A location in Columbia, Missouri is also in the works.

The store, which will be open daily, looks to be a craft beer haven with more than 1,000 different products available. Craft Beer Cellar also has a tasting bar and tasting tables. At the former, customers can enjoy free samples or purchase a five-beer flight. (Beer-infused baked goods by Pint Size Bakery and locally made Billy Goat chips will also be available here.) At the tasting tables, built with reclaimed wood by local furniture company Rustic Grain, brewery representatives and distributors will be on hand to offer tastings of featured brews.

Craft Beer Cellar also carries some wine and soda. With a full liquor license, Ryan Nickelson said the store may carry spirits in the future. Look also for beer-related products including books, home-brewing kits and gifts.

Here’s what you’ll find when Craft Beer Cellar opens its doors.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Sugarfire Smoke House in St. Charles

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Sugarfire Smoke House starts serving up its award-winning ‘cue in St. Charles tomorrow, April 25, at 11 a.m., when its second location at 3150 Elm Point Industrial Dr., opens. During a recent visit, we found plenty of eye candy throughout the renovated Chuck-A-Burger drive-in roadhouse to hold diners over while waiting to enjoy a Sugarfire feast.

Partners Mike Johnson, David Molina and Carolyn Downs had their eyes set on the abandoned drive-in that had all the elements needed to serve their growing business. “It’s a great spot. The building fit perfectly and no one was doing anything with it, so we jumped on,” Molina said.

Space won’t be an issue at Sugarfire’s newest location with nearly 90 seats inside plus an additional 20 chairs on the patio. Chuck-A-Burger’s old carport is also being put to good use; the 20 curbside spots give diners the chance to their barbecue in 1950s drive-in fashion.

The second location will offer the same daily selection of meats, specialties (like the brisket packed Big Muddy) and sides as its flagship location at 9200 Olive Blvd., in Olivette, along with Sugarfire’s dangerously delicious boozy ice cream desserts and Downs’ Southern-inspired pies. Look for the same menu to be available at Sugarfire’s third location in O’Fallon, Mo., slated to open later next month at 9955 Winghaven Blvd.

Can’t get your barbecue fix this weekend? Sooth your craving and catch the Sugarfire crew Saturday, April 26, on competitive barbecue series “BBQ Pitmasters” at 8 p.m. on Destination America.

A word to the wise St. Charles residents eager to check out the new space: Arrive early. Once Sugarfire sells out, it closes up shop for the day. Here’s what’s in store at the St. Charles Sugarfire drive-in:


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Sneak Peek: The Purple Martin

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The Purple Martin is opening its doors at 2800 Shenendoah Ave., for a public soft opening tonight, March 19 at 8 p.m., featuring drinks and some samples from the restaurant and bar’s food menu.

Can’t make it tonight? No problem. We’ve got the Sneak Peek on Fox Park’s newest bar and restaurant.

Owner Brooke Roseberry explained that her Mediterranean-inspired bistro is named after the North American swallow, purple martin – a bird that lives in communities and doesn’t nest independently. “It’s a perfect metaphor for community building,” said Roseberry, noting the lack of Fox Park businesses she hopes her restaurant will change. “Purple martins are completely dependent on people to survive,” she said. Because of the swallow’s over-domestication, the eastern variety of the bird must rely on man-made birdhouses for shelter.

Incidentally, general manager D.J. Huchzermeier said purple martins should migrate through St. Louis this week as it flies from north from South America. “It’s serendipitous,” he said.

On The Purple Martin’s menu, developed by Roseberry’s husband Tony Lagouranis, expect to find around four appetizers, three salads, five entrees and some flatbreads. Joel Clark, formerly of Mission Taco Joint and Sanctuaria, has readied the bar menu, which will feature 10 cocktails along with local bottled beer (Roseberry hopes to add taps in the future.) and wines by the glass. Among wine offerings, look for six reds, seven whites, one sparkling and one rosé.

With space for 85 seats inside and 32 on the patio, The Purple Martin will be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to midnight.  The kitchen will serve dinner from 5 to 10 p.m., and down the road, the restaurant hopes to add a Saturday and Sunday brunch.

Here’s what’s in store at The Purple Martin:

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: The Dark Room

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Wine bar and photo gallery The Dark Room opens today in Grand Center. The adults-only venue at 615 N. Grand Blvd., looks to be a destination in its own right among other Midtown cultural spots as photography, fine wine and casual noshes come together under one roof, as The Scoop first reported in January.

“The energy of the space is more than a typical wine bar,” said managing partner Chris Hansen. The 1,800-square-foot space offers ample space for patrons to walk around the gallery and enjoy the inaugural exhibit, “New on the Scene,” which features the works of eight recent graduates of Webster University’s photography program.

Beverages at The Dark Room include wines curated by Bill Kniep of Pinnacle Imports. Six whites and six reds are available by the glass; 10 whites and 10 reds are on the bottle list. All 15 beers on the menu are local brews.

The food menu, developed by Hansen and with recipes from Cafe Osage’s chef David Kirkland, includes bar snacks, small plates, cheese and meat boards, flatbreads and desserts. Although not a large menu, every item is either prepared in-house or sourced locally. “We’re not trying to be a full-service restaurant, but we wanted to have options,” Hansen said.

Initially, The Dark Room will be open Tuesday through Saturday with limited hours. In a few weeks, it will expand to regular operating hours: open daily (except Monday) from 4 p.m. until midnight, and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Here’s what’s in store at The Dark Room:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: 21st Amendment: The Brewers Bar

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Paul and Wendy Hamilton, owners of Vin de Set, Moulin event space, PW Pizza, The Malt House Cellar and Eleven Eleven Mississippi, are just about ready to debut their new concept, 21st Amendment: The Brewers Bar. The bar, located in the basement of their building at 2017 Chouteau Ave., will open to the public this Monday, March 10.

21st Amendment’s primary focus is local, craft beer. Every brewery within a 100-mile radius of the bar will be represented on tap or by the bottle. There will even be a wall where 8-by-11-inch photos of local brewers will hang.

Since the bar has 50 taps and more than 50 different bottles, there is still room for more beer, so Paul Hamilton is also including regional favorites, such as Goose Island from Chicago and Boulevard Brewing from Kansas City. He plans to fill any leftover tap handles with great craft beers from beyond the Midwest, such as Anchor Steam from San Francisco.

Hamilton said he wanted to open a new venue that filled a need in the neighborhood. He didn’t want to compete with existing businesses; rather, he hopes to help make Lafayette Square an even bigger destination for those looking to eat and drink.

The Hamiltons’ building, which houses all their other ventures besides Eleven Eleven, was built in 1876 and was home to Schnaider Brewery, one of St. Louis’ first and largest breweries. Some of the building’s original wood can still be found in the space, and much of the remaining wood – oak, black walnut, cherry – used in the bar and tables comes from trees on the Hamiltons’ personal property in South County.

21st Amendment will be open daily from 4 p.m. to close, which will be between midnight and 1:30 a.m., depending on the night’s crowd. Bar snacks like soft pretzels and meat and cheese boards will be available, and patrons can also order food from PW Pizza to be delivered to the bar.

Although 21st Amendment is not even open yet, the Hamiltons already have more plans. In the space adjacent to their new bar, they hope to have a biergarten up and running by next fall.


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-photos by Julie Cohen

Sneak Peek: Nadoz Bakery + Café in Chesterfield

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Nadoz Bakery + Café opens its third location today at 17089 N. Outer Forty Road at the Taubman Prestige Outlets in Chesterfield.

Nadoz owners Stephen and Cathy Becker, who have two other locations in Midtown and at The Boulevard in Richmond Heights, brought old Nadoz favorites – and then some – to the new spot. From an expansive juice bar program, a wide selection of baked goods, a hefty burger menu featuring Angus beef on house-made brioche buns, and even wine on tap, there are plenty of reasons to head to Chesterfield and check out Nadoz No. 3:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

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